Belfast Telegraph

McMahon keen on box-offs to secure place in Games

By David Kelly

Northern Ireland could have as many as nine boxers in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later this year.

Ulster boxing president Paul McMahon says the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Federation are prepared to take nine from the ten different weight classes.

McMahon also revealed that he would like a box-offs tournament to decide who should be on the plane for the Games in October, rather than the usual selection procedure based on overall results and in particular the Ulster senior championships — now called the Ulster Elite championships — which are being held at the end of this month.

Unfortunately the finals will not be staged at the Ulster Hall but once more they return to the Andersonstown Leisure Centre on February 5. The weigh-ins are on January 24 and the pre-lims are being staged at Donegal Celtic as the Ulster Council have yet to resolve their issues with the Dockers Club. A recent vote of 5-4 went against the Ulster Council staging the pre-lims in the Dockers, the traditional home of the seniors for the past 25 years.

With potentially nine Games places up for grabs, president McMahon says there is even greater incentive to do well at the Ulster championships, though victory will guarantee a place in Delhi.

McMahon said: “I would like to see box-offs, maybe around September, to see who should go to the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s not my decision, it’s the Council’s but I think it is something we have to consider.

“The winners of the Ulster elite championships will be going to the Commonwealth championships in March which are in the same venue as the Commonwealth Games boxing event will be staged. So it’s going to be a test event for the organisers.

“We have the new ten weights in operation at the elite championships and it’s very encouraging that the Commonwealth Games Federation have said they will consider nine places.

“But we have made it clear that we will only be sending a boxer who we believe will be able to compete at that level and if that means just five or six then that’s the way it will be.”

With the Irish elite championships finals being staged a day before Ulster will be due to fly to Delhi in March, the Commonwealth Games coaches, Mickey Hawkins and Stephen Friel would have to go without any Irish championships who would qualify to represent Northern Ireland.

The high performance unit in Dublin has first call on the Irish champions.

McMahon also wants more international experience for the Northern Ireland team ahead of the Games.

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